Reply To: Teen Doesn’t Want to Grow Up

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This comment thread couldn’t come at a better time! I’m dealing with many of the same issues with my 18-year-old senior who has ADHD (in a big way), along with some anxiety and oppositional traits. The twist with him is that he insists he wants to leave home and go to college. That would be fine, but he has never been able to stay on top of his schoolwork. Like, at all. He’s been tolerating school, miserably, for 12 years. He’s smart and capable, but unmotivated. He’s not really able to connect the goal (getting good grades so you get into college) with doing the boring homework or writing the paper for English. That’s really a maturity thing. My hope is that with time and life experience, he will have a better idea of what he wants to do when he does go to college, and that will help him power through the boring parts. Right now, if he goes to college it’s safe to say he’s not going to manage it well. It’s kind of a set up for failure.

I’m in the weird position of trying to gently introduce the idea of doing something besides going off to college. That’s almost heresy in the community we live in. Most – seems like all – of his classmates are on the college path, and the social pressure is intense. The school he attends doesn’t really acknowledge that some kids aren’t ready, or may want to do something different. Those kids usually go away to college, get overwhelmed and struggle, and come back home after the first semester/year. They end up living at home and attending the university in town, which is what they should have done in the first place. I’d like him to avoid that whole thing, and the sense of failure that comes with it.

We came up with five options for next year:

1-Full-time school, most likely the community college, live at home. Must earn at least Cs, and manage getting yourself to class on time, etc.
2-Full-time job, live at home, take responsibility for car insurance, phone bill, etc.
3-Part-time job plus part-time school – try some college-level classes.
4-Vocational training, possibly graphic design course (he’s got a knack for it)
5-Some sort of gap-year program. Would love him to try AmericaCorp.

Just yesterday, I “presented” him with these, emphasizing that ANY of them would be a great choice. Basically, the only option he doesn’t have is to spend half the day laying in bed watching Netflix. He was insistent that he will go to school full-time, but (and this could be wishful thinking) he seemed happier and lighter after our conversation. He was talkative! I’m just hoping that on some level he gets that it’s okay to take a different route, and that his parents are supportive and proud regardless.

If you read this whole thing, thank you! It helps me to write it out as all this swirls around in my brain and stresses me out. He’s such a good kid and I really hate seeing him stressed and pressured. I’d love for him to just take a break from school and branch out, live a little.